I Started 4 Companies And 1 Family. 10 Habits Got Me Here.

April 20, 2018

Kalika Yap 
By Kalika Yap, founder of Citrus Studios(opens in new tab), Luxe Link(opens in new tab), The Waxing Co(opens in new tab) & Orange & Bergamot(opens in new tab)

In short:

  • I’m not perfect, but I swear by a few habits that have defined my career and happiness.
  • Get to know yourself and what’s important to you. Write this down, and then defend it.
  • Above all else, consider the legacy you’ll leave on this planet. 

I’ll admit it: I’m a serial (concurrent) entrepreneur. In 1999, I founded Citrus Studios(opens in new tab), a Santa-Monica based digital marketing agency. Since then, I’ve launched two other thriving businesses: Luxe Link(opens in new tab) (I invented the original purse hook(opens in new tab)) and The Waxing Co(opens in new tab), Honolulu’s first luxury waxing salon.

My latest startup is Orange & Bergamot(opens in new tab), a branding agency & powerful community for female founders. We’ve rallied a tribe of more than a thousand entrepreneurs since our official launch six months ago. 

I’m also a mom to two daughters, ages 9 and 11.

I’m not perfect by any means. But I have learned some lessons along the way that I believe can help young entrepreneurs, especially females.

Kalika Yap
Photo Credit: Kalika Yap

Here’s my “recipe for success” as a mom and entrepreneur. It’s important to note that each person works with different “ingredients” in life, so everyone’s “recipe for success” will be unique. These, however, are a solid place for most of us to start. 

1. Decide how YOU define success.

Success is a loaded word. I’d rather define this idea as "the way forward," because I believe that if you make incremental progress towards your goal -- small, positive changes every day -- then you’re successful.

Don't define success (or “the way forward”) exclusively by how much money you make and your position at your company. Yes, I know everyone wants to be a billionaire. But being a billionaire doesn’t equate to automatic happiness. I know billionaires who are absolutely miserable and others who, despite their wealth, are fulfilled. 

Theodore Roosevelt said the best prize in life is to do work that is worth doing. Ask yourself: what work is worth doing?

For me, success is worth pursuing because it allows me time off to be with my daughters at school activities and on field trips, and allows me the time and space to empower entrepreneurs who want to positively change the world.. Consider why it’s worthwhile for you.


Super K day #misskailani love you ❤️ (opens in new tab)

A post shared by  Kalika Nacion Yap(opens in new tab) (@kalikayap) on

2. Write down your core values.

I defined my core values probably around seven years into my first business, and it transformed everything. 

You can see the core values of Citrus Studios here(opens in new tab). When I established these core values, I shared them with my employees -- I hire and fire based on my core values – as well as my vendors and partners. 

The values allowed me to make decisions faster, stopped micromanaging, focus on the core work and start other businesses.

Spend time discovering and understanding your core values, and write them down. What qualities do you value: A positive spirit? Passion and inventiveness?

Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

I have slightly different core values for each of my businesses and for my family, but “communicate kindly” is one that applies to them all. Words and tone are powerful instruments in life's tool belt. 

Situations will arise in which your core values will be tested, and you’ll want a reminder of where you stand and what you’re made of. I’ve walked away from Fortune 500 vendors and clients who are belligerent and condescending towards me and/or my staff. They broke the "communicate kindly" core value, so we didn’t work with them.

Write down your core values when you aren’t feeling conflicted, and your mind and heart will stay clear when tensions rise. A written list will help you defend them when they’re being tested. It’ll guide your day-to-day decisions, the way you conduct yourself, your business and hiring and firing employees.

If you can’t identify your core values, you can’t be your authentic self, and you’ll spend a lot of time defending things you don’t actually believe in. 

3. Decide to embrace mistakes.  

Your last mistake is your greatest teacher. This applies to items big and small: After being late for an important board meeting because I was low on gas, I now don’t let my gas tank drop below halfway. After being stuck in a parking lot that only took cash, I keep $100 in my wallet at all times.

The first step to not making the same mistake twice is realizing that you made a mistake in the first place. You first need to have the awareness that you don’t want this particular situation to happen again. 

Having awareness starts with mindfulness. I practice Transcendental Meditation(opens in new tab) for 20 minutes in the morning and evening. This meditation practice gives me the breathing room to notice: When you’re present and in the moment, you start noticing when you’re happy, tired, angry, mad or sad. Before I started meditating, my teacher asked, “what does it feel like to be angry?” I couldn’t answer her. I didn’t know what it felt like to feel angry because I was so numb and in some type of trance. Now, I can feel my face feeling hot and my stomach turning into knots. When this happens, I turn to my slow breaths.

When you have the space to reflect, you become aware of uncomfortable feelings creeping up, and you can pause before overreacting. I’ve deleted, backspaced and edited the tone of many emails before sending them because I know one of my core values is “Communicate Kindly.”

The second step is to take accountability.

As yourself: what did I do to make this situation happen? Was I tired? Was I in a rush? Why am I in such a rush? 

The third step is to brainstorm ideas. Envision yourself in situation, and brainstorm ways in which you could’ve done better. 

The last and final step is to implement your ideas and make them happen. To loosely quote Thomas Edison, “Ideas without execution is hallucination!”

4. Learn new tech. 

Woman wearing VR Glasses
Photo Credit: Getty Images

If you’re not in the know, you are in danger of quickly becoming obsolete and outdated. This isn’t about being “cool” or doing things “the young kids” are. It’s about being current. It’s about being relevant.  

And it’s not as hard as you think. Technology makes things easier. Dedicate time to learning how to use it, and then use it to your advantage. 

A great way to figure out what’s trending is to keep tabs of what 10 - 12-year-olds are doing! Follow their Instagrams, and ask them questions! Stay curious!

5. Feed yourself.

…brain food, that is. 

One of my favorite quotes of all time is: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” &emdash; Mahatma Ghandi

I’m constantly reading several books at a time. I can’t get enough. I’m in a continual state of learning. I find a wide variety of literature that feeds me intellectually, professionally and emotionally.  

The book that changed my life though was “The Energy of Money” by Maria Nemeth. This book showed me how to look at money and have an abundance mindset.

Some of my other favorite books: 

“Wherever You Go There You Are” by Jon Kabbit Zinn

“Deep Work” by Cal Newport

“Captivate, The Science of Succeeding with People” by Vanessa Van Edwards

“Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight (This is the story of Nike.)

“Never Split the Difference, Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It” by Chris Voss 

“The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoffman

“Scale” by Jeff Hoffman, the Founder of Priceline

 When I’m with entrepreneur friends, I always ask them for their book recommendations! 

I get asked a lot about how I get around to reading 4 - 5 books a month. I download books on Audible, get a copy on Kindle and buy a hard copy for my nightstand. This way, wherever I am -- hiking, biking, driving, in an airport lounge or at home -- I have wisdom and knowledge at my fingertips.

6. Change your password.

Change your computer password to the amount of money you want to make or any other goal. 

Each time you type it in, you’ll be reminded of your vision. 

Example: $XXXMillion or $XXXBillion 

Cell Phone Secure
Photo Credit: Getty Images

7. Defend your time.

Remind yourself of your priorities.  I have a sticky note on my computer which asks, “What are the three things I need to do to double or triple my revenue?”

We all feel the pressures of time. It seems like every minute, something isn’t getting done or some opportunity is slipping away. Before we know it, the items on the calendar are no longer prioritized, and they lose their reservation.  

I prioritize my children’s schedule. It goes into my calendar first. 

And I defend it fiercely. Everything I commit to is important, but some things always take priority. I make this clear to my staff, with whom I share my calendar. 

Cell Phone Calendar
Photo Credit: Getty Images

I use Google Calendar. It’s easily sharable, so everybody at work sees family time on my calendar. Nobody can put me in the position to defend my time with family, because they know that one of my core values is commitment to my family. Having priorities and core values works. It’s important. Do it.

8. Know thyself. 

Radical self-inquiry is key to understanding why you work the way you do, both in the office and your relationships. I recommend personality archetypes, especially Myers-Briggs(opens in new tab) and StrengthsFinder(opens in new tab)

9. Hone your intuition.

Intuition is the tool that separates entrepreneurs from super-successful entrepreneurs. To learn more about intuition, read “Intuitive Being” by Jill Willard.

10. Write a mission statement, and watch it become your life. 

Nothing is accidental.

I used to tell people I was an “accidental entrepreneur.” But who would “accidentally” start one business, let alone five?

Years ago, I found a journal from when I was 22, where I had written in great detail about how I was going to own several businesses and have a wonderful, handsome husband and kids. We’d vacation in Hawaii and go to China often.

That journal entry is now my life.

So think about the big picture. The “recipe for success” ends with not one singular ingredient, but a final product: your legacy.

My mission in life is to empower entrepreneurs to change the world and to leave a legacy of wisdom, inspiration and enduring wealth for my family, friends and community for generations to come.

My recipe is a work in progress. If I’m lucky, it will continue to evolve and improve for many years to come. 

Kalika Yap is the founder of four companies: Citrus Studios(opens in new tab), her first digital marketing agency; Luxe Link(opens in new tab), the original purse hook; The Waxing Co(opens in new tab), Honolulu’s first luxury waxing salon and Orange & Bergamot(opens in new tab), a branding agency and community for female founders. Connect with her(opens in new tab) on LinkedIn to keep up with her growth story.

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